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© Hannu Juutilainen

THIN LIZZY
HELSINKI, FINLAND
JULY 9th 2011


text VILLE KRANNILA

When Thin Lizzy first reunited in 1990’s the reaction from fans was mixed. Some thought – and still do – that having a Thin Lizzy without charismatic frontman Phil Lynott was blasphemous to say the least. First incarnation of the band included long time guitarist Scott Gorham and John Sykes of bands “Thunder And Lightning”-era fame. Their style naturally centred on the latter day Lizzy which carried strong heavy metal undertones.

Sykes departed couple of years ago and for a while the future was very much in doubt. After some pondering Gorham decided to put a new line-up together and first call went to original Lizzy drummer Brian Downey who had been playing with late Gary Moore through the last few years. Keyboardist Darren Wharton (1980-1983) came on board and next up was bassist Marco Mendoza who also had played with the band before. Now it only took Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell and former The Almighty frontman Ricky Warwick to complete the line-up. Warwick besides singing was a good guitar player so this added extra depth and power to group’s sound. The band shot out on tour this past winter and reception so far has been very promising.

For this European tour Campbell had to sit out because of other touring commitments with Leppard. His replacement was Richard Fortus, who has also worked with Guns’n’Roses on their more recent “Chinese Democracy.”

The heat inside the Nosturi building was immense, I figure the place was pretty close to being sold out but reportedly many of the tickets were being purchased from the front door. Thus with lower pre-sales, the downstairs bar had been closed. This resulted in huge rows in the upstairs bar area. Also there apparently was no merchandise – either that or they were sold out before I arrived. The warm-up band was Los Bastardos Finladeses who had finished their set by the time I got there. According to some other reports their set wasn’t mind blowing so maybe I didn’t miss that much.

The heat was blistering and this didn’t invite me to go anywhere too close to front, besides from the back of the room the view was almost equally great. It was only appropriate when six songs in Warwick sang “on this long hot summer night” as that’s exactly what it was.

The show opened with “Are You Ready” – one of the band’s heavier rockers that worked well as the kickstarter. “Waiting For An Alibi” and “Jailbreak” quickly followed and were met with enthusiastic response. Rest of the set pretty much all went down extremely well, mixing hits with some gems like “Massacre” and thundering “Angel Of Death.”


© Hannu Juutilainen

In the middle of the show Wharton sang most of “Still In Love With You,” Ricky Warwick joining in on chorus. Competent singer himself, Wharton did a great job and Gorham really shone on guitar solos, bringing life to this old Lizzy classic.

“Whisky In The Jar” is one of Lizzy’s most recognized numbers although suppose it’s been made more popular via Metallica’s cover version. The crowd sang the chorus back to the band loud and they seemed pleased to hear the voices on this one.

Towards the end more singing was required with “Sha-La-La” and “The Boys Are Back In Town” providing the audience a chance to test their lungs more. Bob Seger’s “Rosalie” also contained the usual crowd participation parts. I like the song and the way it was done very close when compared to immortal version from “Live & Dangerous.”

The last four songs, especially the closer “Black Rose” brought the night to a perfect end. After that the show was over. Faithful were waiting for an encore, which never came although I guess most of the hits had already been played. And reading the set lists from other shows they played the same set, just decided to stay on stage for the encores. The show still lasted almost exactly 1,5 hours and proved to be an excellent display of entertainment.

Ricky Warwick did a good job as a frontman and like said previously, his guitar playing added some extra power to band’s sound. On songs he got out the acoustic, it was also very clearly audible (unlike a lot other frontmen whose guitar is merely there as a stage prop). His voice is slightly different than Sykes’ which went far in trying replicate Phil Lynott’s famous pipes, but maybe a change in that field is just what’s needed. Anyway, Warwick sounded good enough by himself so everything seemed fine on that front.


© Hannu Juutilainen

Fortus was great on guitar and really threw himself into every solo, with a strong physical performance. Guitar interplay between Gorham and Fortus worked well and all those excellent parts were done brilliantly. The rhythm section of Mendoza and Downey has locked in together and from what I could hear, the sound on the bottom end was very fine.

Despite the “it’s never the same without Lynott” -cries and their accuracy those in attendance mostly looked at the songs and the very professional band playing them both faithfully and adding their own touches to it. And the presence of Gorham, Downey and Wharton made sure the classic sound was never too far off. I’m sure this line-up of Thin Lizzy will continue to play on and for one I am glad they do.



Setlist:

  • Are You Ready
  • Waiting For An Alibi
  • Jailbreak
  • Do Anything You
    Want To Do
  • Don't Believe A Word
  • Dancing In The Moonlight
  • Massacre
  • Angel Of Death
  • Still In Love With You
  • Whiskey In The Jar
  • Emerald
  • Sha-La-La
  • Cowboy Song
  • The Boys Are
    Back In Town
  • Killer On The Loose
  • Rosalie
  • Roisin Dubh - Black Rose